CRISPR/Cas9-assisted gRNA-free one-step genome editing with no sequence limitations and improved targeting efficiency.
ABSTRACT: The CRISPR/Cas9 system is a powerful, revolutionary tool for genome editing. However, it is not without limitations. There are PAM-free and CRISPR-tolerant regions that cannot be modified by the standard CRISPR/Cas9 system, and off-target activity impedes its broader applications. To avoid these drawbacks, we developed a very simple CRISPR/Cas9-assisted gRNA-free one-step (CAGO) genome editing technique which does not require the construction of a plasmid to express a specific gRNA. Instead, a universal N20 sequence with a very high targeting efficiency is inserted into the E. coli chromosome by homologous recombination, which in turn undergoes a double-stranded break by CRISPR/Cas9 and induces an intra-chromosomal recombination event to accomplish the editing process. This technique was shown to be able to edit PAM-free and CRISPR-tolerant regions with no off-target effects in Escherichia coli. When applied to multi-locus editing, CAGO was able to modify one locus in two days with a near 100% editing efficiency. Furthermore, modified CAGO was used to edit large regions of up to 100 kbp with at least 75% efficiency. Finally, genome editing by CAGO only requires a transformation procedure and the construction of a linear donor DNA cassette, which was further simplified by applying a modular design strategy. Although the technique was established in E. coli, it should be applicable to other organisms with only minor modifications.
Project description:As Cas9-mediated cleavage requires both protospacer and protospacer adjacent motif (PAM) sequences, it is impossible to employ the CRISPR/Cas9 system to directly edit genomic sites without available PAM sequences nearby. Here, we optimized the CRISPR/Cas9 system and developed an innovative two-step strategy for efficient genome editing of any sites, which did not rely on the availability of PAM sequences. An antibiotic resistance cassette was employed as both a positive and a negative selection marker. By integrating the optimized two-plasmid CRISPR/Cas system and donor DNA, we achieved gene insertion and point mutation with high efficiency in Escherichia coli, and importantly, obtained clean mutants with no other unwanted mutations. Moreover, genome editing of essential genes was successfully achieved using this approach with a few modifications. Therefore, our newly developed method is PAM-independent and can be used to edit any genomic loci, and we hope this method can also be used for efficient genome editing in other organisms.
Project description:CRISPR (Clustered Regularly-Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats)-Cas9 (CRISPR associated protein 9) has rapidly become the most promising genome editing tool with great potential to revolutionize medicine. Through guidance of a 20 nucleotide RNA (gRNA), CRISPR-Cas9 finds and cuts target protospacer DNA precisely 3 base pairs upstream of a PAM (Protospacer Adjacent Motif). The broken DNA ends are repaired by either NHEJ (Non-Homologous End Joining) resulting in small indels, or by HDR (Homology Directed Repair) for precise gene or nucleotide replacement. Theoretically, CRISPR-Cas9 could be used to modify any genomic sequences, thereby providing a simple, easy, and cost effective means of genome wide gene editing. However, the off-target activity of CRISPR-Cas9 that cuts DNA sites with imperfect matches with gRNA have been of significant concern because clinical applications require 100% accuracy. Additionally, CRISPR-Cas9 has unpredictable efficiency among different DNA target sites and the PAM requirements greatly restrict its genome editing frequency. A large number of efforts have been made to address these impeding issues, but much more is needed to fully realize the medical potential of CRISPR-Cas9. In this article, we summarize the existing problems and current advances of the CRISPR-Cas9 technology and provide perspectives for the ultimate perfection of Cas9-mediated genome editing.
Project description:The clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat (CRISPR)/CRISPR-associated protein 9 nuclease (Cas9) system is being harnessed as a powerful tool for genome engineering in basic research, molecular therapy, and crop improvement. This system uses a small guide RNA (gRNA) to direct Cas9 endonuclease to a specific DNA site; thus, its targeting capability is largely constrained by the gRNA-expressing device. In this study, we developed a general strategy to produce numerous gRNAs from a single polycistronic gene. The endogenous tRNA-processing system, which precisely cleaves both ends of the tRNA precursor, was engineered as a simple and robust platform to boost the targeting and multiplex editing capability of the CRISPR/Cas9 system. We demonstrated that synthetic genes with tandemly arrayed tRNA-gRNA architecture were efficiently and precisely processed into gRNAs with desired 5' targeting sequences in vivo, which directed Cas9 to edit multiple chromosomal targets. Using this strategy, multiplex genome editing and chromosomal-fragment deletion were readily achieved in stable transgenic rice plants with a high efficiency (up to 100%). Because tRNA and its processing system are virtually conserved in all living organisms, this method could be broadly used to boost the targeting capability and editing efficiency of CRISPR/Cas9 toolkits.
Project description:Gene editing with CRISPR/Cas9 is a powerful tool to study the function of target genes. Although this technology has demonstrated wide efficiency in many species, including fertilized zebrafish and medaka fish embryos when microinjected, its application to achieve efficient gene editing in cultured fish cells have met some difficulty. Here, we report an efficient and reliable approach to edit genes in cultured medaka (Oryzias latipes) fish cells using pre-formed gRNA-Cas9 ribonucleoprotein (RNP) complex. Both medaka fish haploid and diploid cells were transfected with the RNP complex by electroporation. Efficient gene editing was demonstrated by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification of the target gene from genomic DNA and heteroduplex mobility assay carried out with polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (PAGE). The heteroduplex bands caused by RNP cleavage and non-homologous end joining could be readily detected by PAGE. DNA sequencing confirmed that these heteroduplex bands contains the mutated target gene sequence. The average gene editing efficiency in haploid cells reached 50%, enabling us to generate a clonal cell line with ntrk3b gene mutation for further study. This RNP transfection method also works efficiently in diploid medaka cells, with the highest mutation efficiency of 61.5%. The specificity of this synthetic RNP CRISPR/Cas9 approach was verified by candidate off-target gene sequencing. Our result indicated that transfection of pre-formed gRNA-Cas9 RNP into fish cells is efficient and reliable to edit target genes in cultured medaka fish cells. This method will be very useful for gene function studies using cultured fish cells.
Project description:Alfalfa (Medicago sativa) is an outcrossing tetraploid legume species widely cultivated in the world. The clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)/CRISPR-associated protein 9 (CRISPR/Cas9) system has been successfully used for genome editing in many plant species. However, the use of CRISPR/Cas9 for gene knockout in alfalfa is still very challenging. Our initial single gRNA-CRISPR/Cas9 system had very low mutagenesis efficiency in alfalfa with no mutant phenotype. In order to develop an optimized genome editing system in alfalfa, we constructed multiplex gRNA-CRISPR/Cas9 vectors by a polycistronic tRNA-gRNA approach targeting the Medicago sativa stay-green (MsSGR) gene. The replacement of CaMV35S promoter by the Arabidopsis ubiquitin promoter (AtUBQ10) to drive Cas9 expression in the multiplex gRNA system led to a significant improvement in genome editing efficiency, whereas modification of the gRNA scaffold resulted in lower editing efficiency. The most effective multiplex system exhibited 75% genotypic mutagenesis efficiency, which is 30-fold more efficient than the single gRNA vector. Importantly, phenotypic change was easily observed in the mutants, and the phenotypic mutation efficiency reached 68%. This highly efficient multiplex gRNA-CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing system allowed the generation of homozygous mutants with a complete knockout of the four allelic copies in the T0 generation. This optimized system offers an effective way of testing gene functions and overcomes a major barrier in the utilization of genome editing for alfalfa improvement.
Project description:Gene-drive systems in diploid organisms bias the inheritance of one allele over another. CRISPR-based gene-drive expresses a guide RNA (gRNA) into the genome at the site where the gRNA directs Cas9-mediated cleavage. In the presence of Cas9, the gRNA cassette and any linked cargo sequences are copied via homology-directed repair (HDR) onto the homologous chromosome. Here, we develop an analogous CRISPR-based gene-drive system for the bacterium Escherichia coli that efficiently copies a gRNA cassette and adjacent cargo flanked with sequences homologous to the targeted gRNA/Cas9 cleavage site. This "pro-active" genetic system (Pro-AG) functionally inactivates an antibiotic resistance marker on a high copy number plasmid with ~?100-fold greater efficiency than control CRISPR-based methods, suggesting an amplifying positive feedback loop due to increasing gRNA dosage. Pro-AG can likewise effectively edit large plasmids or single-copy genomic targets or introduce functional genes, foreshadowing potential applications to biotechnology or biomedicine.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Development of precise genome editing strategies is a prerequisite for producing edited plants that can aid in the study of gene function and help understand the genetic traits in a cultivar. Citrus embryogenic cell cultures can be used to rapidly produce a large population of genome edited transformed citrus lines. The ability to introduce specific mutations in the genome of these cells using two constructs (pC-PDS1 and pC-PDS2) was evaluated in this study. RESULTS:Citrus sinensis 'EV2' embryogenic cell cultures are amenable to Agrobacterium-mediated CRISPR/Cas9-based genome editing. Guide RNAs (gRNAs) targeting two locations in the phytoene desaturase (PDS) gene were either driven by the Arabidopsis U6-26 promoter (pC-PDS1) or assembled as a Csy4 array under the control of the CmYLCV promoter (pC-PDS2). All transgenic embryos were completely albino and no variegated phenotype was observed. We evaluated 12 lines from each construct in this study and the majority contain either insertion (1-2?bp), substitution (1?bp), or deletion (1-3?bp) mutations that occurred close to the protospacer adjacent motif. CONCLUSIONS:Both the pC-PDS1 and pC-PDS2 could successfully edit the citrus embryogenic cell cultures. However, the editing efficiency was dependent on the gRNA, confirming that the selection of a proper gRNA is essential for successful genome editing using the CRISPR/Cas9 technique. Also, utilization of embryogenic cell cultures offers another option for successful genome editing in citrus.
Project description:We present a new approach to edit both mitochondrial and chloroplast genomes. Organelles have been considered off-limits to CRISPR due to their impermeability to most RNA and DNA. This has prevented applications of Cas9/gRNA-mediated genome editing in organelles while the tool has been widely used for engineering of nuclear DNA in a number of organisms in the last several years. To overcome the hurdle, we designed a new approach to enable organelle genome editing. The plasmids, designated "Edit Plasmids," were constructed with two expression cassettes, one for the expression of Cas9, codon-optimized for each organelle, under promoters specific to each organelle, and the other cassette for the expression of guide RNAs under another set of promoters specific to each organelle. In addition, Edit Plasmids were designed to carry the donor DNA for integration between two double-strand break sites induced by Cas9/gRNAs. Each donor DNA was flanked by the regions homologous to both ends of the integration site that were short enough to minimize spontaneous recombination events. Furthermore, the donor DNA was so modified that it did not carry functional gRNA target sites, allowing the stability of the integrated DNA without being excised by further Cas9/gRNAs activity. Edit Plasmids were introduced into organelles through microprojectile transformation. We confirmed donor DNA insertion at the target sites facilitated by homologous recombination only in the presence of Cas9/gRNA activity in yeast mitochondria and Chlamydomonas chloroplasts. We also showed that Edit Plasmids persist and replicate in mitochondria autonomously for several dozens of generations in the presence of the wild-type genomes. Finally, we did not find insertions and/or deletions at one of the Cas9 cleavage sites in Chloroplasts, which are otherwise hallmarks of Cas9/gRNA-mediated non-homologous end joining (NHEJ) repair events in nuclear DNA. This is consistent with previous reports of the lack of NHEJ repair system in most bacteria, which are believed to be ancestors of organelles. This is the first demonstration of CRISPR-mediated genome editing in both mitochondria and chloroplasts in two distantly related organisms. The Edit Plasmid approach is expected to open the door to engineer organelle genomes of a wide range of organisms in a precise fashion.
Project description:Recently, RNA-guided genome editing using the type II clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)-associated protein (Cas) system has been applied to edit the plant genome in several herbaceous plant species. However, it remains unknown whether this system can be used for genome editing in woody plants. In this study, we describe the genome editing and targeted gene mutation in a woody species, Populus tomentosa Carr. via the CRISPR/Cas9 system. Four guide RNAs (gRNAs) were designed to target with distinct poplar genomic sites of the phytoene desaturase gene 8 (PtoPDS) which are followed by the protospacer-adjacent motif (PAM). After Agrobacterium-mediated transformation, obvious albino phenotype was observed in transgenic poplar plants. By analyzing the RNA-guided genome-editing events, 30 out of 59 PCR clones were homozygous mutants, 2 out of 59 were heterozygous mutants and the mutation efficiency at these target sites was estimated to be 51.7%. Our data demonstrate that the Cas9/sgRNA system can be exploited to precisely edit genomic sequence and effectively create knockout mutations in woody plants.